Labour party activist saves Tribune from closure

The trade union owners of weekly left-wing magazine Tribune have agreed to a sale of 51 per cent of the magazine to a Labour party activist for £1.

Tribune is owned by a consortium of trade unions including Aslef and Unison, who took over the title in 2004, but the future of the title has been in question since October editor Chris McLaughlin revealed that he had failed to secure extra investment from the owners, which he said he needed for the title to develop.

The magazine also has a high level of debt, and McLaughlin claims a marketing strategy is needed to boost sales.

The owners put the title up for sale in October, and after three months of negotiations it has been agreed that the as-yet unnamed Labour party activist will take a 51 per cent stake in Tribune Publications Ltd for £1

The union owners have also agreed to pay off existing liabilities before the sale, and the new owner is offering to underwrite the magazine’s losses with an annual £40,000 ‘cohesive, properly resourced, ring-fence-funded marketing strategy to underpin a three-year drive to move Tribune into a break-even position”.

Any surpluses from the £40,000 will be invested into the magazine, which will be run as a not-for-profit venture with existing staff.

The magazine will undergo changes to editorial content in order to expand its target audience to European institutions and politicians by expanding to cover the ‘legislative importance of the European Union”.

The union owners have agreed to continue with their current levels of advertising and subscriptions, which fund the magazine, ‘provided that the editorial integrity and political orientation of Tribune as a labour movement journal is maintained”.

The Labour activist has pledged in writing to ‘keep Tribune as a left-of-centre publication, retaining its roots in the labour movement but broadening the readership to include non-union and Labour Party members as well as non-members who sympathise or vote with the Labour cause”.

McLaughlin said that the lawyers representing both sides were ‘ironing out the wrinkles”, but he hoped to have everything finalised by Christmas.

He told Press Gazette: ‘We hope to come out in the New Year with a new owner and a stable future.

“The new owner has lots of plans for improvements and mostly what we need is a cohesive marketing plan, which he’s offering funding for.”

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